How to Clean a Forklift

How to Clean a Forklift

Few people enjoy cleaning, but often it’s a necessary part of a job. Material handling work is no different.

A clean forklift not only looks nicer but is more likely to be safer and have a longer life. It can be difficult to spot faults beneath layers of mud and grime, so keeping your machines spick and span is one way to make health and safety easier to maintain. Cleaning your forklift is especially safety-critical if it’s used in outdoor environments or to move hazardous or corrosive materials.

Through regular cleaning, any issues or potential hazards can be spotted before they cause harm, and dirt will have less chance to eat away at the machinery. Important components such as chains, cylinders and valves are vulnerable to dirt and will deteriorate if left covered in dirt. Regular cleaning reduces unnecessary cost through maintenance callouts and downtime.

Below we have some tips to prolong the life of your machines when cleaning your forklift.

Can you pressure wash a forklift?

Pressure washers are an ideal way to safely remove grease and grime from a forklift and will save your staff a lot of time. Pressure washers are the most effective way to remove hazardous materials from a safe distance.

However, there are several precautions to take and areas of the forklift to avoid when using a pressure washer, such as:

  • Any areas that require lubricants such as chains
  • Bearings, seals, gaiters, controls, and anything obviously too delicate for close contact with high pressure.
  • Sidewalls of pneumatic tyres. These can be damaged by high pressure water, especially when hot.
  • Radiators from a short distance. High water pressure can bend the fins, which can lead to overheating issues during later use.
  • Electric forklifts. Using water on an electric forklift can cause component corrosion, electrical failure, and power shortages. Instead, use a damp cloth and compressed air to remove dirt and rust.

Cleaning a Forklift

Your forklift cleaning method should depend on what type of forklift you use and what you are using that forklift for. For example, if you use it to transport cement, it isn’t advised to clean with water, as this will mix with residue and solidify. Water is also ill-advised on electric forklifts, as this may cause damage. Begin by determining what you can and can’t use on your forklift, before starting on the following:

  1. Ensure that cleaners wear the correct PPE, including goggles, gloves and overalls to protect them from any hazardous or toxic chemicals such as battery acid or grease and oils that may spray off of the forklift whilst cleaning.
  2. Remove any loose dirt and debris before cleaning – this can damage machinery if left undisturbed when wiping or jet washing.
  3. As with most cleaning methods, start from the top and work your way down so you aren’t wasting time having to repeat the job.
  4. Try to avoid using toxic cleaning chemicals where possible – not only will they put your workers at risk, but as they are washed off they may prove harmful to the environment.
  5. Pay particular attention to the chassis and underneath of the vehicle, as build-up here can cause long-term damage.
  6. Do not operate the forklift again until it is dry. If you can, dry it naturally outside, otherwise use compressed air and/or a dry cloth.

How often should you clean a forklift?

Forklifts should be cleaned regularly, and as often as once a week. Pick a time and day that suits your business, such as Friday afternoons, so that it automatically becomes part of your work schedule, and so that the machines are all set and ready for the following week without disturbing your other processes.

Remember to keep a log of your forklift cleaning schedule to ensure it has been done correctly and you have a record of who completed it.

Maintenance of forklifts is a vital task and should be undertaken regularly. If you would like any further information about how to look after material handling equipment correctly, get in touch with Refurbished Forklifts on 0800 8620 819.

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